– I was obsessive in reading any and all feedback about me.
It’s often said that we’re our own hardest critic, but that’s not always true. It’s very easy to completely miss some negative aspect of our personality that we project and aren’t even aware of it. I know it’s difficult to deal with negative feedback, but honest, self-critique is absolutely critical if you want to succeed in an industry like this. I was obsessive in gathering feedback about myself because I had to be very careful of how people perceived me, since the success of my stream literally lived or died based upon my popularity.
I joke about this sometimes on stream, but this was something that I spent hours on every single day. I would ctrl + f every single Youtube interview of me, every single game casted of me, the daily scv threads from 4chan, any posts that even mentioned me on screddit, my stream thread on teamliquid, other threads in teamliquid, FPVoD games posted to my Youtube from my stream, and things posted about me on other websites and forums (d2jsp, torrent site forums, gamefaq forums…too many to even remember). Why the obsession over self-image? It’s not because I was a narcissist and it’s not because I was getting off on the attention I was getting, it was because I was searching for trends. I needed to see when people felt like I was being too much of an asshole so I’d knew when I’d need to dial it back, or if people felt like I was “trying too hard” in the entertainment department, or if people thought that my music was abrasive or if I appeared in some other negative fashion.
Even up to this point in time, I can perfectly describe what most everyone who posts on forums thinks about me. I know what perceptions different communities have of me and I know which perceptions are financially imperative for me to change.
It’s absolutely vital to entrench yourself in the minds of the people that watch you. It may not sound fair, but it’s important to remember that perception is reality. If you think you’re a hilarious person, but no one else does, you’re not a hilarious person. If 90 out of 100 people in a room think you’re an asshole, you’re an asshole. If 80% of all of the feedback you see about you speaks negatively of one or two specific issues, those are issues you need to address. It’s been said that there are some people in the community who avoid reading comments at all about them. Those people are people who have already “made it”, so to speak, so they don’t need to concern themselves with what you think. They’re already “set” in terms of popularity and fan base so they don’t have to obsess over what people say about them, they just have to keep doing their thing and they will probably be alright. You are not them, however, so it’s important not to think that you’re “big” enough to simply brush aside critique of yourself because you think it’s illegitimate.
– I was constantly looking to appeal to different groups of people.
One of the biggest things that I had to concern myself with when it came to marketing my stream was to pick and choose which communities to advertise to, and when. If I had a funny Starcraft related strategy or moment that would occur, but it was something that you’d pretty much have to be involved with Starcraft to know about it, it would be something appropriate for the r/starcraft subreddit. If I had a clip with more universal appeal (like some clips involving Debo, or the “no no no” guy from DayZ), that would be stuff that could make it to more widespread areas, such as r/gaming.
It’s important to understand how far you can push your advertising of your own materials. If you post too little, you’re considered irrelevant and no one will care much when they see anything posted about you. But if you post too much, people get annoyed and it feels like you’re simply abusing the community in exchange for views.
If I had a link that I thought had some broader appeal, I’d also mention it to friends and fans in the hopes that they’d share the stream or clips to people in their own communities. It’s always better to let your material grow organically due to word of mouth rather than to run around the internet trying to spam or spread your content. The latter comes off as really sleazy and leaves a bad taste in most people’s mouths.
– I was careful in my selection of music and conversation topics
Every time you do something that falls to an extreme of any spectrum, whether it’s music, politics, anime, tv shows, movies, video games, you name it, you’re liable to alienate a certain number of viewers. That might not be a large number of viewers, and the number may seem small and insignificant, but when you’re starting out every single viewer is important to you. That means no crazy tirades about how much you hate x popular anime or y popular movie, or how much you can’t stand x game even though everyone else likes it, because you’re going to wind up with some new guy tuning into your stream going “What? Lil Wayne is an awesome rapper, why are you talking shit?”
If I was talking about things not necessarily related to the game, I tried to keep it to topics that I figured most people would agree with me on. If I was going off on something that I knew most people liked, I was sure to do it in a way that was entertaining so that even people who disagreed with me could have a laugh. When it came to playing music on my stream, it was always stuff that pretty much everyone could like. There’s a much smaller risk of someone hearing a Nujabes tune on my stream and instantly shutting it off then leaving because I’m playing the latest nu-scream-trash-step math metalcore song from my favorite band Hairy Vagiallation.
Not all of these rules are cut and dry, and I’m sure everyone has their own tips or secrets that they have when it comes to climbing the popularity rungs in any given industry. I’m sure it also varies from scene to scene as well! These are just the things that I, personally, did when I was starting out to get the ball rolling. These days, I’m sure you could find me ignoring any of these rules at any given time on my stream, but it’s always important to remember that it’s different for me because I’ve already “made it,” in a sense, and I don’t have to focus as much on trying to break into the scene since I’ve already established an identity.